Rally Finland WRC: Tanak leads early Toyota 1-2-3, Neuville plummets

World Rally Championship points leader Ott Tanak holds a 5.4-second lead over Toyota team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala after the opening loop of Rally Finland, as Thierry Neuville struggled with set-up issues

Rally Finland WRC: Tanak leads early Toyota 1-2-3, Neuville plummets

Despite running first on the road, Tanak grabbed the lead after the first stage of the day, Oitilla, and extended his advantage over the remaining tests before service.

Toyota dominated the morning running, with Latvala claiming a trio of stage wins to remain Tanak's closest challenger despite suffering a rear left puncture towards the end of SS5 (Assamaki).

SS3 winner Kris Meeke also suffered a slow puncture on his Yaris WRC after hitting a rock on a fast left-hander but lies just four-tenths of a second behind team-mate Latvala.

But it was a difficult morning for Hyundai's Neuville, who started the morning loop the rally leader after topping Thursday evening's superspecial.

The Belgian admitted to being "surprised" after he dropped more than 10s to Tanak at the end of SS2. He shipped a further seven seconds on SS3 (Moksi) before gaining some time back on SS5 and SS6 (Aanekoski).

Esapekka Lappi, the 2017 Rally Finland winner, had an impressive morning in his Citroen C3 WRC and lies fourth, just under seven seconds adrift of Tanak.

The Finn was just 0.1s slower than Latvala on SS2 and maintained his "best of the rest" status behind the dominant Toyotas.

Neuville's team-mate Craig Breen marked his WRC comeback with a sensational morning loop to lie fifth fastest, just 9.1 seconds off leader Tanak.

The Irishman, alongside co-driver Paul Nagle, was sixth on the opening stage of the day, but set the second-fastest times in SS4 (Urria), SS5 and SS6 on his first WRC event since Australia last year.

Reigning champion Sebastien Ogier is a further 3.5s behind Breen in sixth with Andreas Mikkelsen's Hyundai close behind in seventh.

Neuville remains inside the top 10, but is a full 10s down on team-mate Mikkelsen after a "frustrating" morning where he was unable to find the right set-up to suit the conditions.

M-Sport endured a difficult morning as well, with Teemu Suninen saying he "needed to go back to driving school" following SS6. The Finn is ninth, more than half a minute behind rally leader Tanak.

Gus Greensmith completes the top 10 in his second outing in a WRC car, deputising for the injured Elfyn Evans.

The WRC2 Pro regular is over a minute off the pace after suffering significant time loss with a spin on SS5.

A heavy crash on the opening stage for Eerik Pieterainen means that Kalle Rovanpera holds a healthy 1m21s lead over Eric Camilli's brand new Ford Fiesta R5 in the WRC2 Pro category.

Rovanpera's nearest challenger overall is Pierre-Louis Loubet, who is 17s back.

Loubet leads the WRC2 class from by 21.7 seconds from former Hyundai development driver Jari Huttunen, with Takamoto Katsuta third.

Leading positions after SS6

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 36m59.4s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 5.4s
3 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 5.8s
4 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen Total WRT Citroen 6.9s
5 Craig Breen, P.Nagle Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 9.1s
6 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Citroen Total WRT Citroen 12.6s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 13.9s
8 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 23.9s
9 Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 30.9s
10 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 1m02.8s



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Rally Finland WRC: Neuville in early lead from Toyota's Tanak/Meeke

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